The only way to grasp it, is by experiencing it

“I’m curious about the relation between man and what we call nature. The way we position ourselves as something other, or place what we categorize as nature as something other than and alien to us. And still many experience a strong attraction to this foreign and distant nature, and a longing to be closer to it, be fused with it.

Man and Nature?
The idea of living in harmony with nature is a widely exhibited notion, and equally widely ridiculed and often dismissed as a romanticized, starry-eyed and silly one. And it does indeed appear silly when it becomes a construct, and turns into an escape from reality, and a renunciation of responsibility, which it admittedly does pretty easily. But still, to dismiss the notion of the longing for reconciliation with nature as altogether escapist would be absurd. In myself I take it as an indication toward some very essential contradictions in my mind and my worldview, and then I go from there, searching for the truth. Which is of course just as silly as any other absolutism. Can’t seem to help myself though. I’m just as psychotic as the society I’m part of, and THAT is where “nature” becomes relevant and to me CRUCIALLY IMPORTANT. The forest and the mountains and the lakes and the oceans are sane, and when I’m there I become more so too.

That’s the attraction of nature, it’s anti-psychotic effect. This aspect is essential to my relation with it. My brain constantly creates all kinds of wanted and unwanted barriers between me and my environment, and I collect endless quantities of stimuli. Interpreting these stimuli and responding more or less adequately to them requires the making of innumerable connections and a lot of reasoning. The effects of the abstract notions I produce can be very forceful. Sometimes I have to struggle against getting carried away by particular sets of purposes and ambitions and by my self-consciousness. This gets more intense when I live in busy places with massive stimuli. In social networks, there´s interaction in order to establish a certain dynamic relationship beween people and their social environment. In nature, it’s different. My reasoning, my concepts, my arguments are not answered. The quiet of nature doesn’t have to do with sound or movement, but with the lack of mind-noise. When I’m in the presence of this presence long enough I become more like it, I become more present. I become increasingly able to distinguish myself out from the homogeneous mass of everything else, and identify myself as something defined and entitled to a perspective on everything external to me. I am that, that is me, but still I can differentiate."

What about God?
“God and nature are to me, if not entirely interchangeable notions, at least very closely related to one another.  I see nature as an aspect of God on the same level as I am myself, I can access God within myself and in the world around me, but most easily in places that are not so affected by human intention and ambition, and that’s the reason for the importance this subject holds for me.”
Searching for God’s presence has in my experience two main aspects. One is to determine the nature of the wholly other in the external world, in order to determine whether the external world exists beyond the mind. The other aspect is the inherent search for one’s own relation to this wholly other, through which the possibility for the self to connect to the external world can be determined.

Why do you work with art?
My art practice has the function of allowing me to express things that I can’t grasp intellectually and express in written or spoken language.
This inability to formulate what I’m concerned with is the pressure that drives me to do art. My linguistic vocabulary is insufficient as a tool for dissecting and unfolding what I’m after, the only way to grasp it is by experiencing it.

What is your work process like?
My methodological structure is dialectic and loopy, entailing a continuous questioning, invalidation and re-evaluation, both on the concrete, personal and meta-physical level. Its prerequisite assumption is that the concrete (the works
I make), my mental/emotional state (the personal) and my world-view (the meta-physical) are inseparable, which is to say that if one is stuck, the two others can’t move forward. So if the goal is to develop my work, the personal and the meta-physical fields need to have equal attention.
“One of the projects that comes out of my research at the master and the one I am graduating with is an installation of performance films. In this work I aim to depict primarily my own paradoxical relation to society, nature, God, and myself which is full of absurdity, contradictions, determination, nonsensicality, sensitivity, seriousness, misunderstandings, ambition, doubt, beauty and desperation. And revelations, illusions, trust, suspicion, attempts, disappointments, faith, love, hope, damage, repair, judgement, devotion, self-absorption, objectification, emancipation, alienation, emotion, abstraction, denial, confrontation, compassion. And so on. In an endless loopy relay. This naive seriousness, the determination and conviction with which we perform the most absurd acts every day, it horrifies me and at the same time it can be so incredibly wonderful and touching. That’s what we do isn’t it, it’s a miracle that we still exist. I suppose we are easy to love. Thank God we don’t know what we’re doing”.

What will you do in the future?
“I’m working preliminarily on a feature film, a kind of hybrid between documentary and lyrical art film, where the performance films of the master project will be incorporated as an element. It is again about the relation between man and nature, but departing from the more pragmatic and utilitarian attitude of people who work with food gathering in uncultivated nature. My main inquiry in this project is in which way this kind of instrumental and unsentimental attitude affects ones relation to nature and one self. Directly after graduation I will give my undivided attention to this project. And as to what comes after that I haven’t decided yet. There are a handful of impatient projects banging at the door, trying to use me to come into existence. Bloody bastards, why can’t they just take it easy?”

Signe Tøra Karsrud